Today was a single-game day for CBS, and with a relatively weak slate of potential options, the #1 booth of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo went to Chicago for Jets-Bears. The game itself wasn’t that fascinating, with both teams combining for just ten points in the first half, and the Bears would eventually pull away for a 24-10 win.
Without much fun to talk about on the field, Nantz and Romo spent plenty of time on other matters, including a debate about the relative merits of both New York and Chicago pizza:
Tony Romo giving the appropriate response to which type of pizza he prefers. Said he likes thin crust and also likes deep dish from Lou Malnati's.
— Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt) October 28, 2018
Along with the culinary conversation, we’re a few days out from Halloween, so the CBS cameras caught plenty of fans in costume in the crowd. Romo took those shots as an opportunity to do a quick comedy set. It didn’t really go well.
Take this woman CBS decided to show eating in a bear costume:
Nantz: “Halloween week coming up…trick or treat from Soldier Field.”
Romo: “Yeah, you see Mrs. Chicago 1980 right there.”
That one was odd enough, but we also got this look at a family in attendance, with Nantz clearly trying to set up a feel-good moment:
Nantz: “Here’s the family of the week. A family full of onesies, with Papa Bear, the Care Bear.”
Romo: “You know how mad he is at her right now? He’s like ‘You made me wear this. You made me wear this, I’m doing this, and I’m on TV now.'”
Nantz: “And they’re feasting, all of them, with different selections.”
Romo: “Care Bear Stare.”
“Hey, fans, do you love the NFL enough to bring the whole family to a game in costume, spend a bunch of money on concessions, and then sit through a terrible first half? Congratulations, we’re going to put you on national television, make fun of you, and emphasize the idea that if a family is anywhere wearing anything less traditionally masculine than a flannel suit, it must be mom’s choice and dad must be miserable about it!”
It would have been awkward enough had it ended there, but it didn’t! They went back to that same family later out of a break:
Nantz: “Our friendly family of four has been getting some feedback about their on-camera appearance. Yes, somebody grabbed a shot, little screengrab.”
Nantz: “The dad saying ‘Hey, it was worth dressing up like this.'”
Romo: “Yaaay. ‘So excited everybody saw that. So excited.'”
Let’s get this out of the way: making fun of fans shouldn’t be entirely out of bounds. Sometimes they do things very much worth mocking! But there are ways to both pick targets and to joke about them without crossing the line into, if not outright poor taste, a zone where viewers watching might get uncomfortable with the tone.
Romo’s humor here may not have been intended to make fun of a woman’s appearance, or to suggest a dad should be ashamed for dressing up in a family costume, but that’s how it came across. (It’s especially odd to see Romo make fun of anyone else for wearing a costume in public given his repeated efforts to pass himself off as a professional golfer.)
Maybe stick to play call predictions and pizza analysis, Tony.
Comedy isn’t for everyone, and between this and those Corona ads, it’s pretty clear where Romo’s strengths lie.
Update: the family seemed to enjoy the attention so that’s good.